compass on map

Those that know and work with me know that I am a huge fan of Seth Godin’s work and I gain great inspiration from his blog.  I love Seth’s frank and bold approach; he articulates the things that we are all thinking in a way that is both thought provoking and challenging.

Seth wrote a great blog around the ‘Map and the Compass’.  He was challenging us to question our map (plan) and explore how well it relates to our compass (vision). What direction is your compass pointing? Is there a clear ‘True North’? The message is simple, there is no point having a great organisational or project plan if is not pointing in the right direction!

Sometimes we get caught up in the plan and fail to get clear on the ultimate destination. Our true north encompasses our guiding principles, our vision of what success looks like for the organisation and for the people involved.

Seth’s blog delivers a key insight! When thinking about your strategy how much time do you waste on getting the map just right with no regard for the compass? I see it happen all too often in organisations and on large infrastructure projects. “Our business plan has fifty actions, we have assigned 100 owners to tasks all due next quarter, and our leadership programme is in place along with our engagement strategies.  We have the project execution plans, our detailed programme, and technical specifications for our projects.”  Sounds terrific… doesn’t it!? When people get so bogged down in the ‘check list’ they forget to look up!  This can lead to a fear of asking the tough questions of ourselves, our people and our service providers.

These things mean nothing if they are not aligned to our true north. What’s the point of a detailed map that is heading in the wrong direction? There must be a clear vision of the future in the form of a high level three or five year strategic plan. This can be built on one or two pages and should include your vision, values, your desired culture, along with your guiding success principles and targets.

A critical success factor for us when working with Government clients around their strategic plan is to gain an understanding of what the client, project, and non-owner participant objectives are. Without a clear and mutual understanding of the direction we are headed in we could end up in Africa when we are keen to go to Asia!

It’s time to be bold and check your compass! Never let fear or the need to have every action documented get in the way of focussing on what matters for success and driving positive behaviours for your organisation or project.

Furthermore, your team will thank you for creating a vision that they can engage with and understand how they can contribute to it rather than a series of actions that don’t link to the bigger picture.  You can’t hit a target you can’t see!

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